SANTA MONICA, CA—Women in Norway now have the same protections against unwanted sexual advances enjoyed by women in most other Western countries thanks to an award-winning public service advertising campaign conducted by Amnesty International. The group’s No Means No campaign, which last week won a Gold PR Lion at Cannes (and previously won a Gold Clio), stirred wide public outrage and eventually prompted the Norwegian government to change laws that defined rape as a sexual assault involving violence or threats, but not simply a lack of consent.
The centerpiece of the campaign is a 2-minute public service announcement conceived by Oslo agency Try/Apt and directed by well-known Norwegian film and commercial director Hans Petter Moland (who works in the U.S. through Santa Monica-based Accomplice). The ad centers on a young woman who meets a man at a party. They hit it off and the man entices the woman to join him in an upstairs bedroom. She goes along but becomes increasingly uncomfortable as he presses her for sex. Despite her protests, the man forces himself on her, the encounter quickly turning ugly. To underscore the point about Norwegian rape laws, the girl’s cries of “no” are muted.
The ad had an electric effect on the Norwegian public. A petition connected to the ad quickly attracted tens of thousands of signatures. Having been pressed on the subject of rape by Amnesty International for years, the Norwegian government finally acted and the law was changed. Norwegian women now have a legal right to say “no.” In addition to its Gold Lion, the ad won a Gold Clio Award for Public Relations and has also been honored at several other European advertising competitions.
Moland, who has a long history of working with Try (Moland won his first Gold Lion also partnering with TRY founder Kjetil) and had previously directed an equally influential Amnesty International PSA on torture, was unaware of this loophole in Norwegian rape laws. “Like a lot of Norwegians, I assumed the laws were there” he explains. “Amnesty brought it to my attention. Their goal was to both strengthen the law and change attitudes.”
The ad was designed to counter common stereotypes about rape and rapists, Moland says. The perpetrator was not a low-life monster, but rather a “boy-next-door.” “He’s not a violent man, not someone who thinks of himself as a rapist, buts someone used to getting his way,” Moland observes. “We wanted to show rape in the context of a situation that many people have found themselves in.
Moland, whose latest feature film The Prize Idiot, starring Stellan Skarsgaard (PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN) and Bruno Ganz (DER UNTERGANG), is currently in post-production, says that the PSA does what any good ad should do, it influences the way people think about a particular subject. Moreover, it does so with intelligence and restraint. “I think it is important to be respectful of our fellow human beings when we make commercials; we have to take care about how we talk to each other,” he says. “With everything that I do, commercials and features, I like to engage people. I may not change their minds, but part of the fun and challenge of filmmaking is to get people to view life
through different set
Accomplice Media is a unique blend of award winning directors, visual media artists and creative production teams creating and telling stories for advertising agencies and brands through various media platforms. The diverse roster includes directors John Bonito, Don Burgess, Sherpas Cinema, Duane Crichton, Tom Feiler, Josh Forbes, Jeff Gorman, Sten Helvig, Vincent Laforet, Andy Lambert, Anniken Lien, David Jellison, Rick Knief, Hans Petter Moland, Johan Skog and Guy Sagy.
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